×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Slamdance Film Festival Marks 25th Anniversary in Style

The 25th anniversary edition of the Slamdance Film Festival kicks off Jan. 25-31 in Park City, Utah, with a line-up of world premieres, guest speakers and filmmaking seminars all geared toward fresh storytellers who are looking for their cinematic breakthroughs.
This year, further underscoring a desire for world cinema, there are 11 narrative and nine documentary features that will be showcased in competition, from Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Poland, South Africa and the U.K., alongside the U.S. All competition films are feature-length directorial debuts with budgets of less than $1 million, and lack American distribution.

Founded by current president Peter Baxter, as well as Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn, Dan Mirvish and Paul Rachman, Slamdance has screened more than 2,000 films over the years, with notable alumni including Christopher Nolan (whose 1999 drama “Following” debuted at the fest), Oren Peli (“Paranormal Activity”), Bong Joon-ho (“Okja”), Lynn Shelton (“Outside In”), Ari Aster (“Hereditary”), Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Shots Fired”) and Sean Baker (“The Florida Project”).

“It’s a milestone year and we’re going to be celebrating with some amazing new voices,” Baxter says. “We’ve become successful because we’ve stayed true to our original mission, in that Slamdance would be a festival built by and for filmmakers.”

This year shows no shortage of ambitious projects on display. Tyro helmer Andrew Patterson, who directed the buzzed-about ’50s sci-fi drama “The Vast of Night,” says: “Slamdance and their values line up with my thought process more than any festival in the world, and I love that it’s entirely merit-based. We chose Slamdance because they were so excited about the work.” Patterson’s ambitious debut took two years to complete, but his journey to becoming a filmmaker has lasted more than two decades.

“I hope in 25 years, I’m invited back to talk with that generation’s storytellers.”

Other buzzy titles include gun-safety doc “Behind the Bullet,” and feature efforts “Cat Sticks,” “Spiral Farm” and “Hurry Slowly.”

Receiving Slamdance’s 2019 Founders Award is Steven Soderbergh, an alumnus who has continued to support and represent the Slamdance organization in a variety of ways over the past two decades.

“I’ve had a long relationship with Slamdance, going back to Greg Mottola’s ‘The Daytrippers,’and I’m ideologically supportive of anyone who decides to make anything creative happen,” Soderbergh says.

The filmmaker will participate in a discussion with Baxter before the world premiere of his newest film, “High Flying Bird,” which hits Netflix on Feb. 8. “Slamdance has an infectious spirit, and they’ve never had a lot of resources but everyone involved is passionate about the work, and they really want to be there. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?”

New this year is the Breakouts section, which presents efforts from feature directors who aren’t rookies and who demonstrate a singular vision of filmmaking that continues to push the boundaries of the form, with the festival’s goal of helping these individuals find bigger audiences for their work. The 2019 Breakouts feature the work of several Slamdance alumni, including Soderbergh, who executive produced “Beats,” and Canadian filmmaker Alexandre Franchi, who received the audience award for narrative feature at the 2010 festival for “The Wild Hunt.”

In addition, the Russo Fellowship, which was launched in 2018 by the blockbuster duo of Anthony and Joe Russo (“Avengers: Infinity War”), returns with its $25,000 prize. Presented by AGBO Films in partnership with the festival, the inaugural fellowship was awarded to Yassmina Karajah for her short “Rupture.” She also scored an office and mentorship at the Russos’ new Los Angeles-based studio, along with a cash stipend for one year.

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content